Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week Thirty-Nine - Stablish


“ established in the present truth.”  II Peter 1:12

Peter started by remembering the works of God from the past as a source of strength for the present.  The Psalmist David used the same method as a tool for present strength.  Remembering past trials, and knowing we survived by God’s grace, reminds us that today God is still sufficient.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (I Peter 5:10) Stablishment comes not by self determination, not by encouraging words, or doing good works, but by suffering.  We need experiences to make us solid.  And, we need not forget them.  They are jewels that shine. 

In the book, Hinds Feet on High Places, the author speak of small stones and gems the traveller collects along the journey.  Each one was a remembrance of a lesson learned or a trial passed.  We, too, have travelled down the path of life and no doubt remember places of suffering and trial.  These are tokens of God’s grace and involvement in our lives.  They give credibility when we seek to strengthen and comfort others.  Rehearsing them increases our faith and stablishes us in the present truth – “God is able to make all grace abound unto you.”  So that no matter what new affliction we face, we are stablished in the present truth because we see His faithfulness in our past.  God is able!

Are you facing a trial today? Can you look back and draw strength from past experiences?  Are you fearful of trials?  Does your fear and worry reveal an un-established heart?


“…stablish your hearts…”  James 5:8

Fix it.  Make it fast.  Let it be settled upon God’s Word, His promises and the facts of a life of faith.

Some things in life we just accept.  The laws of nature do not change and we work with them and though we may not understand all about them, we are settled in the fact that they are right and good.

God’s law is another thing that we must accept.  We don’t understand everything, but, for example, God’s law of sowing and reaping is a settled fact.  His eternal, immeasurable, and unconditional love is another settled fact – a wonderful fact. By faith we can rest therein.  And there are more…

A stablished heart knows that God is in control of nature and of the events of life.  A stablished heart trusts solidly in the foundations of God’s Word and has ceased from the struggle to twist or alter to get it’s own way.

It knows, like the husbandman of James 5 that patient endurance and obedient yielding will produce the desired fruit. A stablished heart is a heart at rest with God and with self.

I once read in a devotion book, “The Rock of Ages does not move.”  Wow!  Now that is what you call stablished.  Christ is stablished.  He is settled.  He is fixed and made fast.  We can depend upon him.  Though we might be swayed by the events of life, or struggle with rebellion, he does not.  He knows truth, yea, he IS truth.  And forever it is settled in the heavens.

Is your heart settled on these matters?  Fixed?  Made fast?  Resting?


“….strengthen the brethren…”  Luke 22:32

Don’t let this phrase throw you.  The word translated “strengthen” is the same word, “establish”.  Christ gave this instruction to Simon Peter just before the prophecy of the cock’s crowing and following Christ’s confirmation of prayer for Peter.  In the midst of this pointed moment Christ told Peter what to do with the lesson he was about to learn – use it to strengthen (establish) the brethren.
And did he?  Yes.  At Pentecost we see a more solid Peter and we see brethren united and strong.  They are stablished in their mission.  They were fixed on their goals.  No longer do we read of questioning disciples or men of little faith, but now they are going everywhere preaching the gospel.
It might not seem that Peter’s denial of Christ could have produced anything of value, yet later we see Christ taking time to strengthen him and challenge him with the three questions “Do you love me”.  We can see that Christ, himself, was doing exactly what he had already instructed Peter to do.  He was strengthening brother Peter. Peter’s trial of faith produced an established heart because Christ took the time to re-enforce the lesson. A stablished heart will stablish others for the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel.

Are you carrying forward to others the lessons you have learned?  Are you a source of strength to your fellow brethren?  Can you see that your current trial will someday be for use to strengthen others?


“…stablish you in every good word and work…”  II Thess 2:17

This is the work of Christ in our lives – to stablish us in good things.  He calls us to the work and we are ordained to good works before the foundation of the world.  II Thess 3:3 tells us that the Lord is faithful to stablish us and keep us from evil.  I Thess 3:13 states he will stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness.

Holiness and purity are necessary to maintain good works.  Word and work go together.  James 3 spends several verses relating the power and danger of words that are unbridled.  An unbridled tongue will undo good works.
We need to control our tongues so that they may be stablished in holiness and without evil.  Note that in all three of the above references, II Thess 2:17, 3:3, and I Thess 3:13, it is God that does the work in stablishing us– oh, may we yield!”

Yielding is so necessary if Christ is to do His work in our lives.  Resisting means that we will not be equipped to accomplish the word and work He has ordained for our lives.  Resisting makes us unstable.  Resisting places us in an awkward position – one of chastisement – not blessing.

What does your life and talk reveal about the work of Christ in your life?  Do you actually do any good works?  Is God at work in your life?  Does your tongue reveal a lack of holiness in your life?


“ establish you...”  I Thess 3:2

Here Paul has sent Timothy to Thessalonica to aid in the establishing of these saints.  They needed comfort, reassurance and instruction.  It was Timothy’s mission to do this, just as Paul had written to the Romans in 1:11, he longed to go to them to the same end, and to impart spiritual gifts and comfort that would come by the sharing of faith.
God sends us people along the way that lift us up, that comfort us and even instruct us so that we may be stronger, more settled, established in our faith.  Praise God for these people.  They are not always preachers.  Sometimes they are grandparents, church family, friends, schoolteachers, or even strangers.  They speak a simple word, but God takes that and drives home truth to our hearts that takes root and grows for our benefit making us more established in our faith.
God uses us, too.  We are all “sent” to aid in establishing each other.  We are accountable to each other for the way we live our lives.  We are the vessel of Christ – the messenger of encouragement, reassurance and instruction.  We are His tools.

Upon whose life has God appointed you for influence?  Are you using your influence wisely?  Do you need to send a note of appreciation to someone who has been a godly influence on your path?  Are you doing right by those God has placed in your path?  Are you willing to be a tool in His hand?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week Thirty-Eight - S's & K's


“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  II Peter 3:9

In one of the “Back to the Future” films, the headmaster uses the word, “slacker” to describe a pupil that is slow or not performing well.  This is the meaning of this Bible word! However, the word is used in this verse is a very different way.  The pupil in “Back to the Future” was slow!  He was under-performing due to his lack of intelligence.  God, on the other hand, is not slack – not slow or lacking in intelligence – not under-performing – especially when it comes to his promises.

He is not slack, as men think of slackness.  He is tarrying on purpose.  That is the difference.  God is allowing time for men to see their need and come to repentance.  Sometimes it seems that we pray and pray for a loved one and nothing is happening Godwardly in their lives.  But God is always at work.  We might not see it ourselves, but we can trust that His will is that none perish, so He is always working toward the goal of drawing men and women to Himself.

Sometimes we might be tempted to believe that God has forgotten where we are, that all of the prophecies we read in His Word are but stories – fables of old that have been long abandoned.  But that is not true either.  Not one jot or tittle of God’s Word will fail – all will be accomplished, but in His time, under His control, and He will not tarry when that time has come.

Maybe the truth of the matter is that we are the slackers!  We are the ones who are slow and under-performing.  We are the doubters, the scoffers, the ones who lose focus and forget that God is longsuffering.

Slackers need to repent……


“I have stuck unto thy testimonies:
O Lord, put me not to shame.”  Psalm 119:31

Stick-to-it-ness is a real virtue.  It demands that you adhere consistently to a manner of life, an attitude, outlook, or task until completed, or, maybe a belief or hope in someone or something.  God’s Word promises blessing to those who stick by his Word.  (Joshua 1:8, Rev. 1:3, Luke 11:28)  The blessings come to those who not only believe God is right, but also are striving to live lives according to God’s direction in His Word.
Only two other times in God’s Word does this word, “stuck”, appear.  In I Samuel 26:7 Saul’s spear was stuck in the ground as he slept, and in Acts 27:41 a boat became stuck on the shore and was unmoveable.
We need to plunge ourselves into God’s precepts and stay there.  Like the spear for safekeeping, or, as the boat run aground being unmoveable. It matches up with I Cor. 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Psalmist said, “…put me not to shame.”  Don’t let me down, Lord; I’ve put all my eggs in your basket.  I trust you to honour your Word. Throughout the Bible that faithfulness of God’s Word is declared.  In the Gospels, three times it is written, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33
God won’t let us down.  He will keep his Word.  Our job is to get “stuck” into it and leave the rest to Him.  How are you doing?


For my wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.”  Psalm 38:5

The 38th Psalm is a cry from the heart of a man face to face with the reality of his sinfulness.  His emotions are causing physical reactions; in the third verse he experiences restlessness, in the fourth he is heavy, in the sixth mourning, in verse eight there is weakness and turmoil of heart and in verse nine he is groaning.  Verse ten reveals heart palpitations and verse seventeen sorrows, while verse one indicates that he knows he is in a place of judgment.  He cries out, “Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.”  The reality of sin and the assuredness of chastisement bring about an attitude of repentance.
He sees his sin and it stinks. Through his foolishness he has placed himself in a position of dread and he is repentant.  Kay Arthur wrote, “Sin is independence from God; …when that true poverty of spirit comes, then righteous mourning will rise up like a wall on its foundation.”  Repentance is a scarce commodity today.  People seem to have become accustom to the smell of sin.
The word, “stink”, here in Psalm 38 is the Hebrew word “Ba’ash” which means to be morally offensive, to smell bad, to be abhorred.  So the Psalmist comes before God to seek forgiveness with a broken heart and in full repentance.  He knows the odor of his life choices is not a sweet smelling savour! Verse eighteen states, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.”
Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation.  Man must come to the knowledge of the stench of his own sinfulness and place himself upon the mercy of God.  Repentance is also necessary for the saint.  We are not above acting out our own foolishness and sin.  Yet, we are admonished to keep our lives clean and fragrant through confession and repentance of daily sins.  (I John 1:9) 

No Christian should be a “stinker”.  How about you?  Any stinky things in your life you need to repent of?


“Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.”  Psalm 69:14

“Let me not sink”.  Sometimes life gets so overpowering that we feel we surely cannot face another day with the same pressures and hazards.  Or, we recognize the challenges before us and see ourselves as inadequate for the task and we worry that the task will consume us.  Whatever the source of the pressure we feel compelled to cry out for help “Let me not sink”.
Crying out is a great thing.  Recognizing our weaknesses or inadequacies is not necessarily detrimental.  This is the point from which we can reach out to the One who can help us, deliver us, and raise us up once again.
The Psalmist did a lot of crying out, and said that each time, the Lord delivered him.  Psalm 34:6 “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 120:1 “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.”
At other times we feel the influence and oppression of the sinful world in which we live trying to pull us under.  This is the mire to which the Psalmist alluded in the 69th Psalm saying it was filthy, full of hate and running deep.
Like Pilgrim in the quagmire or Pool of Despond, we too, need to seek to be lifted out of the filth of the world unto greater sanctification and holiness of life.  We need our garments cleansed by repentance and separation.
Cry out!  The Lord will not let you sink!


“Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.”  Proverbs 22:26

To strike hands is equivalent to being responsible to another for someone else’s debt.  It is to stake the goods God has given you stewardship for as another’s security.  If your friend defaults, you must pay up.

Matthew Henry comments on this verse, stating, that to do this is like cheating the person in need.  Instead of simply helping him by your own generous gift, you “gamble” with your goods.  This places your own prosperity in jeopardy and does not really relieve your neighbour of his debt.  He is now also bound to you as well, and if it all goes pear-shaped, the friendship will be damaged.

We have all experienced the calamity of the banking industry in recent times.  Bad debt and poor decisions were the basic cause.  Men simply were not dealing with good practices.  They were gambling against the economy and predictions of prosperity.  But, it was false and collapsed.

Our lives will similarly collapse if we practice poor financial management.  God warns us again co-signing loans in this verse.  It would be better to give our neighbour a free gift helping him out of debt than to be bound to this sort of risk.  When we understand and accept that all we have belongs to the Lord and we are only stewards, then surely we would not want to risk our Lord’s goods!

Have we heard God’s wisdom?  Or do we continue to gamble?  Are we good stewards, or do we think that all we have has come from our own strength?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week Thirty-Seven - Skilfulness


“…so he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”  Psalm 78:72

This is the only Scripture to use the word “skilfulness”, though “skilfully” is seen once in Psalm 33:3 and the words “skilful” and “skill” are found several times.  It is interesting to note that in all of the verses where these words are found they relate to the skill of men for war, music and handiwork.  The book of Daniel reveals that all wisdom and skill are gifts of God.
But only Psalm 78:72 points consideration to the skill of God, and how great is that skill!  He guides us.  He orders the entire universe – skilfully.  I once read, “There is a God in heaven, and you are not Him”.  Oh, that we would learn to submit to the skilful work He desires to do in our individual lives.
Think of the skill of creation and of the continuance and wonder of nature.  Do you produce the air you breathe?  The water you drink?  The life in your veins?  In the book of Job God asks more questions of man who would be god, and man is unable to answer.
God is so skilful.  So precise.  No detail goes unnoticed.  No thought.  No word goes unheard.  No intention is un-discerned.  No problem need be unresolved.
So, why don’t we just lean back and trust?  Trust in His skilfulness abandons worry and yields peace.  No doubt we need to learn to be more skilful in obedience and truth.

Take time to meditate on how skilfully He has ordered your life.  Where can you see the hand of God directing, protecting, teaching, or blessing?  Take time to thank Him for His skilful involvement in your life.


“…so he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”  Psalm 78:72

God has an intricate plan for every bird, every minute, every individual, each nation, each discovery of man, each raindrop, every hair, every grain of shifting sand, and his plan is larger than the ages.  Nothing goes unnoticed or uncontrolled, and though the universe is His, He takes time to know you and me; to seek us out, to draw us to Himself, to desire our attention and fellowship.  And, in all of this He skilfully works in our lives to bring blessing, to encourage growth, to correct and teach, to show through His every action that our lives are important to Him.  His skilfulness is an example, a manifestation, of his immense love.
God will accomplish his plan.  He will because He is God and because of the integrity of his heart.  He will never break His promise to Israel, or to us His children.  He will work in love to bring about the desires of His heart toward us and to give us the desires of our hearts along the way.
This truth can be of great strength when we face uncertain and turbulent times.  It helps us to look up when things look down. God is at work in every circumstance.  He can skilfully make the crooked ways straight and he can change the heart’s desire with the wipe of His hand.
We need to pray believing, watch expecting and live resting in God’s skilfulness.

Have you come far enough in your Christian life to look back and see where God has skilfully intervened in your path?  Where might you have been now had He not intervened?


“…so he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”  Psalm 78:72

Continuing with the thoughts on God’s skilfulness, let’s examine Psalm 139. Verses 1-5 teach that God knows every thought, every word, every movement, every characteristic, and every iota about our lives – inside out!  He knows me.  Greater yet, he knows everyone, all of his children with the same skilful intensity.    

Verse 6 is full of wonder. Verses 7-12 reveals that God sees everything and sees everywhere.  I can not hide.  He is too interested to turn a blind eye.  His hands lead me and hold me.  He is not only showing me the way to go but holding me as I follow.  The action is all His.  He is that interested in guiding my life. Verses 13-16 explain that even in an embryonic state I was important to Him.  He made record of my fingerprints and DNA.  Humanity is a marvel of creation.  It is God’s design created in His image.
Verses 17-18 say that His thoughts toward me are too numerous to mention.  Though I may lie down to sleep, He keeps watch and is right there waiting when I awake.  Verses 19-22 are the stance of the Psalmist.  With the knowledge of how much God loves, he chooses to hate those that would stand against such perfection.  It was the Psalmist expression of complete devotion to this marvellous love of God.
Verses 23 & 24 is the response of the Psalmist.  In the face of such love comes the ability to open one’s heart.  There is no reason to fear being revealed, no fear of being vulnerable, no need to hide or run, no need for shame or embarrassment; just openness, honesty, and dedication to God’s love.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Take time to thank Him for his skilfulness in your personal creation.


“…so he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”  Psalm 78:72

God is skilful in his plan, in his exhibition of love, and in his dealings and knowledge of my life, but how skilful is He when things go wrong in my life?  Just because he understands can he do anything about it?
We cannot limit God.  His ability to work in our lives is “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”.  (Eph 3:20)  I can bring to him hurts and difficulties that defy human reasoning.  He can take these and turn them into good.  He can help me make sense of things.  He can give the wisest counsel and give me peace to go through.  Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15)
The fact of God’s skilfulness need not remain merely factual.  By faith we can turn fact into action.  God greatly desires to prove himself.  By believing the attribute of skilfulness in active faith we experience God’s skilfulness in our lives.
Experiencing God’s skilfulness means I can take my hands off.  I can release my problems, children and my spouse, to him to have freedom to work in their lives as he sees fit.  Then, I can look for his hand and acknowledge it; make mental note, record it in a journal, or, share it in testimony.
Experiencing God’s skilfulness means I can stop mulling it over.  I can acknowledge that I may never fully understand, and that is okay.  My finiteness is submissive to His infiniteness.  As a child I can come under His direction and simply believe that He will do right and do what is best.
Experiencing God’s skilfulness means I can know that He will either solve my problem or bring me though. He will skilfully compass and hedge my path.  I can consciously live in that vein of thought and act upon it by faith.  Can you?


“Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.”  Psalm 33:2

So worthy is our God of praise.  We have looked at the skilfulness of His hands in our lives, now let’s look for a short moment at our own skill.  This verse is admonishing us to use the gifts and talents of the musician to bring worthy praise to God.
The Israelites used many different instruments and music was a part of their worship and praise.  We see Miriam and the other women using tambourines, we read of trumpets and horned instruments, and we see a people ready to raise the roof with noise in praise of their God and his wonderful acts among them.  God appointed and gifted people whose main ministry was of voice and instrument.  They were talented people who gave of their gifts to God.
Now, not all of us can sing or play an instrument and it would be unfair to think that we cannot praise God without music.  But for today, we need to think about the skill of the musician.  It takes practice to be skilful.  It takes dedication and sacrifice to practice properly and adequately.
So it is with life.  We need to practice to be skilful.  We need to take time to look at our strengths and weaknesses and set plans to practice improvement.  A life well played is praise to God.  The Psalmist asked God to try him and prove him and see where his weak points were so that he could improve and be more pleasing to God.
You have heard it said that actions speak louder than words.  If so, then what music is being made by your life? Is it a skilful toned noise, or an undistinguishable sound?  Are you living your life skilfully?